Project managers urge the government to go agile in opening Zimbabwe for new business

The country’s largest Association of Project Managers, Project Management Zimbabwe (PMZ) has fully thrown their weight behind Government’s mission of opening up the country for business investment and the vision of targeting uplifting citizens to a middle income economy by 2030. The Project Managers have gone further and urged the Government to adopt an Agile approach in tackling the country’s economic challenges and enact legislations that augment the proposed 2030 middle income economy vision. This position was one of the major resolutions that came out last week (1 November 2018) at the annual

INTERNATIONAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT DAY (IPM Day) CONFERENCE hosted by PROJECT MANAGEMENT ZIMBABWE (PMZ) in Bulawayo attracting over 100 project management practitioners from all major sectors of the national economy. The conference was hosted to mark Zimbabwe’s endorsement of the annual global International Project Management Day recognized by over 100 countries all over the world every year in November. The objective of IPM Day is to honour the contribution of project Managers in the development of products and services in all sectors of the industry the world over.

The Zimbabwe project management practitioners came up with a five-point plan (noted below) centred on an Agile approach to tackling government programs and projects, having unanimously noted that it can only be project management that can drive the country towards the desired 2030 vision and beyond not politicking. The Office of the President must fast track the conclusion of the “Ease of doing business Project that has dragged on for many years now and swiftly publish the newly simplified business start-up procedures for new investors. Each Ministry must announce those programs and projects under their portfolio which they will be pre-occupied with for the next 5 years in line with the 2030 Government vision.

Project Management has been a critical success factor for the private sector for many years globally and it is now time for Government to seriously tap into the same and replace the politicking mantras with project management. There must deployment of adequately trained portfolio, program and project management practitioners to lead high level public mega infrastructure development projects such as the pending dualisation of the Beitbridge-Harare- Chirundu highway. Political meddling, trial and error will reap disastrous or no deliverables at all. Enact statutory instruments that enable the project management profession and lock out incompetent local and foreign bidders for public infrastructure development tenders. The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act of 2017 is an example of such enabling instruments.

Roll out the long overdue Zimbabwe National Development Plan that must go beyond 2040. The NDP will motivate subsequent planning at portfolio and programme levels. A culture of intensive project planning within each government portfolios starting with the 40-year national development plan will translate the intentions of Government work from fuzzy to clear. What is Agile? Agile is a new approach to management of programs and projects that is now embedded in the Project Management Body of knowledge (PMBOK) which requires practitioners to use adaptive tools and techniques of managing change breaking away from predictive and pre-emptive approaches, because the environment and needs of citizens are highly dynamic.

Leading Silicon Valley software development companies like Microsoft are known to have largely gone Agile in their business processes. Business and Project Plans must never remain fixed during implementation but must be open for incremental changes in response to environmental demands and the evolution of consumer needs. Sectors like the Agricultural sector which have seen erratic weather conditions obtaining in recent years were cited as requiring farmers to go Agile and diversify into new crops and water supply management plans. Remaining loyal to traditional pre-emptive agronomy practices could spell disaster for farmers. Other sectors that could benefit from the Agile business manifesto include mining and ICTs.

The Project Managers also took a swipe at the authorities of the City of Bulawayo for hoping that the city’s once booming Belmont industry could be resuscitated back to the glory days of the 1990s. “Industrialists in Bulawayo must forget about the past glory of the 1990s and go Agile and think of completely new business lines consistent with present global demands”, said one of the IPM Day conference organisers Mr Peter Banda of PMZ. The same Belmont factory shells and buildings that appear idle and dilapidated today can be rekindled with new paint but now housing new industries such as car assembly, bottled water, mobile phones assembly and repairs, recycling of rubber and scrap metals to name but a few said Mr Banda.

Agile is all about breaking away from rigid historical business mentality and responding to arising business opportunities and threats overnight without going via rigid strategic change processes that will be overtaken by the new opportunities. Chinese entrepreneurs have gone Agile and come all the way from Beijing to Bulawayo to cash in on scrap metal processing business, they have set up small factory shells in the Kelvin North this year and are now producing various handy products for the local and export markets from the molten recycled steel on a small scale.

Who is PMZ? Established in 2009, Project Management Zimbabwe (PMZ) is Zimbabwe’s largest Association of Project Managers and Project Management practitioners. PMZ is a membership based organisation operating as a non-profit adult vocational education and training Trust. There are over 3500 members to date on the PMZ database. Besides providing various project management mentorship programmes for its members, PMZ is also licenced locally by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology to train and examine the Certificate and Diploma courses in Project Management (CPM/DPM) including the Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management (PGDPM). PMZ is also able to mentor its members in the world’s top 2 project management certification programmes, i.e. the PRINCE2 and the PMP credentials.

Through their Harare based National Secretariat Office and the Bulawayo Regional office, PMZ has a mandate of registering membership, setting up, monitoring and evaluation of standards in project management training and certification nationally. From 2009 up to 2013 PMZ was known as Project Management Institute of Zimbabwe before rebranding to PMZ in line with identities of similar institutions worldwide and the recommendations of the parent Project Management Institute based in USA. Considered to be best practice organisation in project management standards, the Project Management Institute (PMI) is the world’s largest Association of Project Managers.

In Zimbabwe, as in most Sub-Saharan African countries, the level of project management, training and certification is nascent, albeit ominously low, given that these countries undertake massive infrastructural development projects. Hence projects fail due to incompetence in project management and the lack of appropriate project governance thereof, giving rise to opportunistic corruption. For More Information: Please Contact BANDA P. J. (Mr.) Secretary -General & C.E.O. *PROJECT MANAGEMENT ZIMBABWE [PMZ] NATIONAL SECRETARIAT OFFICE NO. 8 BUCKINGHAM Rd EASTLEA, HARARE ZIMBABWE TEL. +263 4 776000 OR +263 8644075061 *Cell: +263 773 432 610 WEBSITE: Alternative Email address:



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